Vegan, eh? I know you might be skeptical…
But I promise you, this is a vegan recipe you DON’T want to pass up.
Especially if you’re overlooking it only because it’s vegan. No, I’m not vegan, or going vegan for lent, or anything like that. I’m actually actively avoiding the Netflix documentaries that have turned so many of my friends off animal products… namely because I love dairy! But hear me out.
Years ago, I was at a friend’s place for supper and she told me she was going to make vegan mac & cheese. “Gross!” was my first thought – how can you make vegan CHEESE, of all things? She must have been reading my mind, because in the next sentence, she assured me, “it doesn’t taste vegan at all – it’s our favourite meal these days!”
Being an eater of all things, I went in with an open mind. I was quite curious, actually. She mentioned a few ingredients I’d never heard of, which, as a food blogger, I thought was intriguing.
When she finally served the meal, it was not only delicious, but it had something complex about it that I couldn’t put my finger on – an addicting, unusual flavour I wanted more and more of. In short, I was sold.
I set out to duplicate the recipe, and attempted a few times over the last couple years. It took a few tries before I got it just right. The best part? While I was testing this recipe, My Other Half had no idea it was vegan or cheese-free. I do this to him all the time – serve him something, wait for him to say he likes it, and then break some weird news to him like “it’s made from anchovies!” or “the secret ingredient is fennel!” or, in this case, “it’s vegan!’… (which really puzzled him, since he was eating macaroni and cheese).
The sauce is made, essentially, from three ingredients – nutritional yeast, soaked raw cashews and miso paste. I had never used any of those ingredients until I starting making this recipe, so it was definitely a learning experience. The “cheese” sauce is nutty and creamy and VERY addictive. It amazes me how much of this stuff I can eat!
I really LOVE this dish. Even if you’re not vegan, or dairy-free, give it a whirl and let me know what you think! And, I challenge the vegans out there – think you have a better vegan mac & cheese recipe?! Bring it on.
- 8 oz macaroni
- ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 1¾ cups almond milk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1½ tbsps cornstarch
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp yellow or white miso paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain. In a food processor, pulse soaked cashews until very finely ground - almost (but not quite) forming a paste. The soaking is not necessary, but the sauce is much creamier if you do this step. In a medium-sized pot, mix almond milk, canola oil and cornstarch with a whisk. Bring almost to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes, whisking often. Add in the cashews, nutritional yeast, miso paste, lemon juice, onion powder and garlic powder. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni, adding a tiny bit if extra canola oil, if necessary. This recipe makes four regular-sized portions, or two hearty-sized portions.